Hayden Panettiere Worries That Her Daughter Is Experiencing ‘Trauma’ Without A Mom

The “Nashville” star, who relinquished custody of the child to her ex, shared a disturbing conversation that she had with the two.

Actor Hayden Panettiere is expressing concern about how her absence is affecting her daughter emotionally.

The “Heroes” star had relinquished custody of the child, named Kaya, when the girl was around 3 years old, Panettiere said Wednesday on the online show “Red Table Talk.” Kaya was left in the care of her father, Wladimir Klitschko.

But an unsettling conversation with both Kaya and Klitschko has since caused the actor to fear that the girl, now 7, is experiencing “trauma” without a mother around.

Hayden Panettiere earlier this month
Hayden Panettiere earlier this month
Jon Kopaloff via Getty Images

“I ... remember her dad calling me, and he said Kaya’s going around and asking other women if she can call them ‘mommy,’” Panettiere said on the Facebook Watch show. “My breath hitched and my heart stopped, and he was laughing. He thought this was funny, and it was horrifying to me.”

She continued: “He didn’t get it, as opposed to me who saw that’s a trauma reaction. That’s a cry for help.”

After Klitschko told her this, Panettiere demanded to speak to Kaya directly.

“When I asked her about it she went into goo-goo ga-ga speak, like just talking gibberish. I’d never before ever heard her do that,” she said. “It was a trauma that she was experiencing, me not being around.”

Panettiere said she also believes that the absence of a mother in Kaya’s life is “going to rear its ugly head later when she’s older, and it could turn into anger, depression, sadness.”

Earlier in the episode, Panettiere said that relinquishing custody to Klitschko, a former boxer, wasn’t “fully my decision.”

The “Heroes” star revealed that she suffered from postpartum depression after giving birth in 2014, when she was still together with Klitschko. At the time, she wasn’t offered any information about the condition, didn’t know how to seek help and eventually turned to alcoholism, Panettiere said. She also told People in July that she had struggled with opioid addiction since she was a teen.

Panettiere and Klitschko eventually split, and while she began serious work on her sobriety, her daughter would travel between Tennessee, where the actor filmed “Nashville,” and Ukraine, where the girl’s father lived.

During one of Kaya’s visits to Ukraine, Klitschko demanded full custody, Panettiere said.

“I thought she was going over to visit him like she always did,” the actor said. “And then once she was over there, it was immediately, ‘I want full custody of her,’ which was a shock to me.”

Panettiere implied on “Red Table Talk” that she had signed papers to give Klitschko custody without talking about it first, which she called “heartbreaking.”

“If he [Klitschko] had come to me and said, ‘I think because of where you’re at right now and the struggles that you’re having, it would be good for her to be over here with me for a while’ ... [I] would’ve said: ‘OK, that makes sense. I get it. I’ll come there to visit,’” Panettiere said.

“I was going to go work on myself, and I was going to get better, and when I got better then things could change and she could come to me and I could have my time,” she added.

But that didn’t end up being the case. Panettiere, who noted on “Red Table Talk” that Kaya has left Ukraine due to the country’s ongoing conflict, said that she now only visits her child.

And although Panettiere called Klitschko a “fantastic father,” she also stressed that “kids need their moms.”

Need help with substance use disorder or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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